Rural fire departments and volunteer firefighters will have a place at the table after formation of a Regional District of Nanaimo committee.
Following a electoral area services committee recommendation, the RDN board unanimously approved creation of a fire services advisory committee at its December meeting, which will provide counsel on fire protection-related affairs. Membership will consist of electoral area directors, fire chiefs from departments funded by the RDN and chairpeople and financial officers of fire societies in the regional district. Meetings are anticipated to be held every two months, according to the recommendation.
Stakeholders will be invited to a meeting where terms of reference are expected to be developed, although a date for that has not yet been determined, said Tyler Brown, RDN board chairman.
“The intent behind the committee is to make sure there’s full inclusion of the fire departments, in fire governance and decision-making model and making sure that future decisions around service delivery and funding and decisions, with respect to the service delivery, are inclusive of each of the volunteer fire departments,” Brown said.
Members of municipal fire departments will not be included.
The RDN began a fire services review in 2015, with the second phase now underway. As part of that, a fire department governance review was received by the board at the meeting and will be forwarded to all fire societies in the RDN.
Among recommendations in the report, compiled by Dave Mitchell and Associates Ltd., to the extent to which “individual societies remain responsible for operational service delivery” service agreements between the two need to be updated with “respective responsibilities clarified.” The RDN must “ensure that it has the oversight capacity and rights necessary to ensure that its obligations are being met,” the report said.
“The fire governance review makes new recommendations,” said Brown. “Unpacking those needs to be done together between the RDN and those who are actually out there on the ground and so it’s just an extension of that work and there’s a few decisions of late where we’ve realized how really important it is to make sure they’re included.”